Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats on the Bacino, Venice, with Santa Maria della Salute, the Dogana, the Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) and the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 188 × 280 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32184
Turner Bequest CCCXVII 5

Catalogue entry

This is a pictorial, simplified treatment of the well-known Bacino scene, supposedly from off the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, looking west-north-west to the domes of Santa Maria della Salute and the porch of the Dogana at the entrance to the Grand Canal, and north to the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) and the Molo front of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). Compare Tate D32150 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 13) a contemporary colour study on pale grey-white Italian paper; the present view is effectively a cropped variant of the wider prospect there.
Ian Warrell has noted that this grey sheet and the technically similar D32201 (CCCXVII 16), a closer view of the Salute and Dogana, ‘combine the economy of Turner’s graphic shorthand with broadly applied pastel washes’;1 compare also D32200 (CCCXVII 15), a less developed Salute view.2 He continues: ‘The reductive quality of the draughtsmanship ... means that the architectural features of the Doge’s Palace are barely individualised, and yet there is somehow enough for the eye familiar with the original to make sense of Turner’s squiggles and dashes.’3
1
Warrell 2003, p.215.
2
See ibid., p.264 note 17.
3
Ibid., p.215.
Technical notes:
Heavy pencil has been used over existing colour for details including masts and the articulation of the Doge’s Palace and its reflection, while the sky has been heightened with soft stokes of white. Ian Warrell has suggested that Turner ‘may also have experimented here with the use of a red chalk or crayon to build up some of his detail’,1 at the far left and right.
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Warrell has noted as being on ‘Bally, Ellen and Steart grey paper’ which Turner had also used on his Continental tour of 1833, including Venice, and therefore ‘the dating of some of these sheets in uncertain’ (see in particular Tate D32205–D32210; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 20–25); the following ‘seem to arise from the later visit’:2 Tate D32180–D32181, D32183–D32184, D32200–D32201, D32203–D32204, D32212, D32215, D32217 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 1, 2, 4, 5, 15, 16, 18, 19, 27–30, 32); see also Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore and the Zitelle from the Giudecca (currently untraced)3 and The Doge’s Palace from the Bacino (private collection),4 and two further ‘half-size sheets’:5 Tate D33883 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 183), and Shipping with Buildings, ?Venice (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge).6
1
Ibid.
2
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 8) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.464 no.1367, reproduced.
4
Not in ibid.; Warrell 2003, fig.233 (colour).
5
Warrell 2003, p.259.
6
Wilton 1979, p.423 no.1037, reproduced.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

Read full Catalogue entry

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